ENVELOPMENT OF PERSIA 463 the victorious Turkoman ;1 and slaves in Central Asia became cheaper than they had been for a generation.2 No sustained effort was made to restore Persia's lost prestige, but some of the guns were recovered in a raid from Sarakhs, which was retained as a Persian frontier fort. The Crushing of the Turkoman by Russia, 1881.óWe return now to the Russian advance. After the subjuga- tion of Khiva the only independent area left in Central Asia was that of the Turkoman, over which, as we have seen, Persia exercised vague and ineffectual control. Every year from Chikishliar the Russians despatched strong columns into the interior, and gradually they annexed the right bank of the Atrek as far as Chat.3 They also began to control the Yamut tribe. In 1877 General Lomakin advanced on Kizil Arvat, but retreated before making good his position. Two years later he advanced to Geok Teppe, or " Blue Hill," the famous entrenched camp of the Tekke. His artillery caused terrible losses among the Turkoman, who were crowded into a small area, but -his assault failed and he retreated with heavy losses. The shock to Russian prestige was terrible, and the event may perhaps be compared with the British retreat from Kabul. General Skobeleff was now entrusted with the task of rehabilitating Russia's lowered reputation. Realizing that the question of transport was of primary importance, he decided, as did Lord Kitchener later when faced with a similar problem, to construct a railway across the level steppe. With its aid,4 joined to his own powers of organization, he was able to bring 8000 men with fifty- two guns and eleven machine-guns against Geok Teppe,5 where the Turkoman had decided to make their last stand. In January, 1881, in spite of the desperate sorties of the Tekke, parallels were dug and a breach was made, through which a deadly fire was poured into the confined area. 1 Vide Merit Oasis, ii. 170. 2 Vambdry in his Life and Travels gives the average price of a slave at Bokhara at £3, but mentions that the price went down to five shillings after the Persian disaster. 3 Merv Oasis, chap. iii. ; also Ten Thousand Miles, etc., p. 16. 4 Only a few miles were actually constructed by 1881. 8 Dangil Teppe is the actual name ; vide The Heart of Asia, p. 291.